"The Electric Age"

(eOne Music)

01. Come And Get It
02. Electric Rattlesnake
03. Wish You Were Dead
04. Black Daze
05. Save Yourself
06. Drop The Hammer Down
07. 21st Century Man
08. Old Wounds, New Scars
09. All Over But The Shouting
10. Good Night

RATING: 9.5/10

Consistency is the name of the game to career longevity. Exceeding expectations 17 studio albums into a decades-spanning career is the stuff of legend.

Personally, I've been endeared to OVERKILL almost since the beginning. I still relish the days of old when I'd terrorize mothers, fathers and grandparents of the mid-eighties by walking around in public with OVERKILL's "Deny the Cross" thundering out of my boom box I lugged around. Yeah, I know, youngsters?how archaic, but metal was a commitment for me and I'm proud of those days with that sucker mounted on my shoulder or at my hip. The looks of shock from the adults of my day are priceless to recollect.

OVERKILL has remained a long-standing passion that hasn't wavered even as I'm now a father. If anything, my continued respect for OVERKILL makes me eager to share them with my son once he's of the appropriate age. Won't it be a wonderful thing to have so many albums to play the lad and prove what a trusty force of thrash OVERKILL has been over time? I won't know whether to start him with "Feel the Fire", "Taking Over", "Horrorscope", "The Years of Decay" or "Killbox 13". Or maybe it'll be OVERKILL's latest "The Electric Age", just to make a point.

2010's "Ironbound" wasn't so much of a surprise album as it was OVERKILL rising to the occasion amidst a recent outcropping of younger thrash acts such as SKELTONWITCH, HIBRIA and FUELED BY FIRE, who, cheers to them, have played by the old-school rules. Their arrival all but forced the Eighties master blasters to step up their game. For old-school dogs like myself, it has been a delight to witness SLAYER, EXODUS, KREATOR, TESTAMENT, ANTHRAX, MEGADETH, HEATHEN, FORBIDDEN and, of course, OVERKILL answer the call with stalwart albums that have all but collectively buried their juniors, save for maybe SKELETONWITCH. In other words, the mantles have been reclaimed and fans of all ages are rightfully singing the praises of OVERKILL and their peers of yesteryear. Even more righteous OVERKILL responded as demonstratively as they did with "Ironbound" and yet again with "The Electric Age" this year.

Seriously, this album and "Ironbound" rank well high in OVERKILL's considerable catalog and it's not just because they're faster than hell. Along with MOT?RHEAD and SLAYER, OVERKILL has remained one of the most dependable metal acts in the genre's history and sure, it's the uncompromising speed on "The Electric Age" that's one of the album's headlines. "Come and Get It", "21st Century Man", "All Over the Shouting", "Save Yourself", "Good Night" and "Electric Rattlesnake" dish up breathless, near-impossible velocity. It really is more than you can take, as quoted from the latter cut.

Veteran status aside, OVERKILL goes the extra mile on "The Electric Age" to outclass and outwit most of their industry competitors and a lot of it has to with having a stabilized unit in their camp. This lineup gives the classic roster of Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, DD Verni, Rat Skates and Bobby Gustafson a hearty run for the money and no disrespect is intended by that statement. Derek Taylor and Dave Linsk have remained inside the OVERKILL court for a considerable amount of time now and there's nothing these cats can't provide to the thrash and stamp modes demanded of them. They're absolutely gonzo through the time signature shifts on "Electric Rattlesnake" and "Drop the Hammer Down" while Ron Lipnicki and DD Verni lay down rumbling grooves for their guitarists to shred and garnish at will. Linsk and Taylor's solos are crisp, ornamental and haunted as ever, so get those phantom fingers moving on your imaginary frets, peeps.

Then of course, there's ol' Blitz, who's a freak of nature at this point in his game. Strokes be damned, Ellsworth sounds as urgent and blazing as he did in his youth and for him to hit the high shrieks and never miss a beat in his rhythmic growling no matter how much his bandmates threaten to dust him?crikey.

As ever, OVERKILL employs as much mosh as they do mash, interchanging between lightning fast intros and bridges between humming, hardcore-esque verses on "21st Century Man", "Wish You Were Dead", "Good Night" and "Old Wounds, New Scars". Then they once again herald the NWOBHM power metal stomp which gave OVERKILL life on "Feel the Fire" and "Taking Over" with "Black Daze". There's a strut to "Black Daze" you can't teach unless you were weaned on PRIEST, MAIDEN, SAXON and TYGERS OF PAN TANG.

An added bonus to the superstructure of "The Electric Age" is the hopping gang vocals amidst the background of many songs, whether in answer-and-call motifs or in doom chant mode as you hear about three-fourths through "Come and Get It". They bring an added dynamic to OVERKILL's run amok script and they keep the band's players hungry to discharge more.

Seldom does "The Electric Age" let off the gas and when it does, you're too busy headbanging to care. This album and "Ironbound" are statement pieces from a thrash classic that refuses to quit. OVERKILL is like an indomitable energy creature even the Superfriends might cower from. "The Electric Age" is an appropriate, usurping title targeted against an era where synthetics rule the music world. Full-on distortion, unrepentant fury, inhuman calculation and music so unfailingly fast, it's no wonder OVERKILL still matters today.

As OVERKILL caterwauled on "RELIXIV", here's to the old school?


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